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BUDGET TRANSPARENCY

Budget Transparency

Transparency, and the accountability that follows, is necessary for state's to fix their fiscal problems.  Citizens should now demand ready access to state and local government budgets, regulations, contracts, and contacts.  Absent transparency, there is far greater risk of continued failure, corruption, fraud, waste and regulatory abuse.

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    • HEADLINES: Ohio

      Smaller proposals tossed into state bill

      The Columbus Dispatch | by Jim Siegel | April 22, 2013

      The Ohio State Senate will spend a lot of time poring over hundreds of smaller policy proposals shoved into the 4,509-page budget bill.

    • HEADLINES

      In Congress, a Bill Seeks to Tie Municipal Borrowing Power to Public Pension Disclosure

      The New York Times | by Mary Williams Walsh | April 19, 2013

      Representatives from California and two other states introduced a bill in Congress on Thursday that would strip states and cities of their right to issue tax-exempt bonds unless they first disclosed the true cost of their pension plans and whether they could pay it.

    • HEADLINES: New Hampshire , New York, New Mexico , Oklahoma

      Tobacco Settlement Fund Gimmicks Alive and Well

      by Cory Eucalitto | April 15, 2013

      The many varied uses of tobacco settlement funds illustrate how any state can and will manipulate the budget process. The many ways lawmakers have manipulated this one source of state budget money shows the different ways officials rely on budget gimmicks.

    • HEADLINES

      Budget Gimmicks Update, April 2013

      by Joe Luppino-Esposito | April 1, 2013

      State officials have a deep bag of tricks to "solve" budget gaps but they often keep budgets far from being balanced. This consistent habit of kicking the can down the road has put states in their current fiscal catastrophe. Below are some of the gimmicks on which lawmakers rely, and examples of how states have used them.

    • HEADLINES: New York

      Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces New York government transparency website

      Syracuse.com | by Glenn Coin | March 13, 2013

      As part of Sunshine Week, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo launched a website designed to be a one-stop access point for data on local, state and federal governments.

    • HEADLINES

      Budget Gimmicks Update, March 2013

      February 28, 2013

      State officials have a deep bag of tricks to "solve" budget gaps but they often keep budgets far from being balanced. This consistent habit of kicking the can down the road has put states in their current fiscal catastrophe. Below are some of the gimmicks on which lawmakers rely, and examples of how states have used them.

    • HEADLINES: California

      California Fire Chief Defends Secret Fund

      The Sacramento Bee | by Kevin Yamamura | February 22, 2013

      Since 2005, the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, also known as Cal Fire, has paid the nonprofit California District Attorneys Association to house a special fund for training seminars and high-tech investigatory equipment. The fund collected $3.6 million overall and is being dissolved this month at the nonprofit's request.

    • HEADLINES: California

      LAO has 'serious concerns' with Governors' Prop. 98 calculation

      EdSource | by Kathryn Baron | February 22, 2013

      The LAO report calls this approach "a serious departure from our longstanding view of how revenues are to be treated for the purposes of Proposition 98," and says it "is directly contrary to what the voters were told in the official voter guide as to how the revenues would be treated."

    • HEADLINES: Wisconsin

      Scott Walker's budget to lower income tax rates, freeze local aid

      The Journal Sentinel | by Jason Stein and Patrick Marley | February 21, 2013

      Gov. Scott Walker unveiled a two-year $68 billion budget Wednesday that would not increase state aid to local governments and provide only a modest hike to public schools

    • RESEARCH

      Federal Aid to the States 2008-2011

      by Kristen De Pena | February 21, 2013

      It is well understood that the federal government must make spending cuts-these cuts will most likely drastically change the amount of federal dollars that are allocated to the states. Unfortunately for most states, dependence on federal funding has continually risen since 2008.


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    • RESEARCH

      Federal Aid to the States 2008-2011

      by Kristen De Pena | February 21, 2013

      It is well understood that the federal government must make spending cuts-these cuts will most likely drastically change the amount of federal dollars that are allocated to the states. Unfortunately for most states, dependence on federal funding has continually risen since 2008.

    • RESEARCH

      Forecasting the Recovery from the Great Recession: Is This Time Different?

      The National Bureau of Economic Research | by Kathryn Dominguez & Matthew Shapiro | February 4, 2013

      Was the slow recovery of the U.S. economy from the trough of the Great Recession anticipated? 

    • RESEARCH

      State Budget Crisis Task Force Report

      State Budget Crisis Task Force | by Richard Ravitch and Paul Volcker | July 17, 2012

      State finances are not transparent and often include hidden liabilities as well as rapidly growing responsibilities which are difficult to control.  While state revenues are gradually recovering from the drastic decline of the Great Recession, they are not growing sufficiently to keep pace with the spending required by Medicaid costs, pensions, and other responsibilities and obligations.  This has resulted in persistent and growing structural deficits in many states which threaten their fiscal sustainability.

    • RESOURCES: Connecticut

      $100k Pension Club Includes 299 State Retirees

      In 2008, 175 former Connecticut state employees received pensions worth at least $100,000. That number rose to 299 people in 2009 and is expected to continue rising.

    • RESEARCH: Minnesota

      At a Crossroads

      Are students learning the things they need to know? Is there a healthy exchange of ideas? Are trustees upholding the public trust? Are taxpayers getting a good value for their money? These are the kinds of questions to which the people of Minnesota deserve answers. It is the goal of this report card to provide answers and to help Minnesota—a state rightly known for its passion for education—be a national standard bearer for excellence, accountability, and efficiency in higher education.

    • SOLUTIONS

      How Reality-Based Budgeting Can Permanently Resolve State Budget Gaps

      State Budget Solutions | by Bob Williams | November 7, 2012

      State Budget Solutions recommends that state legislators take action in 2013 to resolve the serious state financial crises by changing their focus from inputs to outcomes by redesigning budgets from the ground up based on priorities and performance.

    • SOLUTIONS: North Carolina

      A Blueprint for Budget Reform

      Civitas Institute | by Brian Balfour | September 12, 2012

      The ongoing state budget "crisis" strongly underscores the urgent need for North Carolina to adapt significant state budget reforms, including putting North Carolina taxpayers back in charge of approving new debt, and forcing legislators and state agencies at reasonable intervals to justify all spending, not just spending increases.

    • SOLUTIONS

      Transparency Key to Fixing State Budget Crises

      by Mike Barnhart | March 12, 2012

      Transparency, and the accountability that follows, is necessary for state's to fix their fiscal problems.  Citizens should now demand ready access to state and local government budgets, regulations, contracts, and contacts.  Absent transparency, there is far greater risk of continued failure, corruption, fraud, waste and regulatory abuse.

    • SOLUTIONS

      Creating a New Public Pension System

      The Laura and John Arnold Foundation | by Josh B. McGee, Ph.D. | December 5, 2011

      Sound pension reform meets four general criteria: (1) establish transparency with respect to the true cost of the benefits promised to public employees; (2) mandate that the pension plan sponsor pay the full cost of accrued benefits each year; (3) mandate that the pension plan sponsor pay down the unfunded accrued liability over a reasonable time horizon and (4) improve the generational equity, portability and security of benefits for public employees.

    • SOLUTIONS: South Carolina

      The South Carolina state budget is a mystery. What can be done about it?

      The South Carolina Policy Council | December 2, 2011

      The South Carolina state budget should be more transparent. There should be one document showing the exact amount lawmakers appropriated in a given year and the budget should reveal where all money is coming from.  The budget should list every program each agency is running, how much that program is receiving, and a description of the program.

    • SOLUTIONS

      Statewide Transparency/Spending Web Sites and Legislation

      National Conference of State Legislatures | July 20, 2011

      At least 34 states have passed legislation--often called Taxpayer Transparency Acts--requiring a centralized, searchable website that provides information to the public about state expenditures or state contracts.  They can all be found here.

    • SOLUTIONS: Texas

      2011 Texas Budget Solutions

      The Texas Public Policy Foundation provides a host of potential budget solutions for the 2011 Texas state budget. Their solutions cover a broad range of categories from education to tax policy. Take a look!

    • SOLUTIONS: Texas

      Make the Budget Process More Transparent: HB 2804 and SB 1653

      The Texas Public Policy Foundation | April 1, 2011

      Over the long term, one of the most important reforms the Legislature can enact to promote fiscal responsibility is to make the appropriations process more transparent.

    • SOLUTIONS: New Jersey

      The Crisis in Public Sector Pension Plans

      Mercatus Center | by Eileen Norcross, Andrew Biggs | February 11, 2011

      Case study of New Jersey's five public pension plans and exploration of possible solutions, including shifting all newly hired employees to a defined contribution pension model based upon the plan already offered to New Jersey's university employees and continuing current reforms lowering pension replacement rates and, if possible, extended to current employees.

    • SOLUTIONS

      Performance Audit Tools for Higher Education

      by Harry Stille | January 28, 2011

      The time has come for openness and accountability in post-secondary education. The best way to achieve this is through performance audits, which look at all facets of an institution-from student input/outcome data to faculty process data to all aspects of financial data. This project is to develop areas of process for a Performance Audit Guide used to evaluate how public (and/or private) institutions use student, public, and donor funds to meet the institutions' primary missions.


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